We always knew Gracie was unique, but now that we have a diagnosis for her, we can assign statistics to how rare she is. According to one website, the incidence of PCARP is less than one in a million. A few people have told me it’s like she won the lottery. I disagree; it’s more like she lost.
In some ways, she did win the genetic lottery, but not because of her disease. Only because of circumstance. She was born into a loving, two-parent, white family in America. She will never have to know true hunger, because she’ll always have family and extended family to support her. She is able to go to school, and even receive accommodations for her disabilities, because in this country public schooling is given to all children—not just the wealthy, or just boys, or people who are able-bodied. She will always, always be loved.
These past weeks have seen too much violence in America. Two black men were brutally murdered by those sworn to serve and protect. While the country mourned the loss of these men, a sniper in Dallas shot several police officers, killing five and wounding several others. Important, but painful, discussions about race and poverty and judicial inequality ripple through our conversations like aftershocks. We should be celebrating our country’s birthday, and instead are mourning its inequality.
Philando Castile was a school kitchen manager, beloved by all he came into contact with. Alton Sterling had a smile that could light up the darkest hearts. Delrawn Small was a father of small children. Michael Brown was getting ready to attend college when he was killed. Trayvon Martin was armed with a package of Skittles. Tamir Rice was only 12 years old. There are more, so many more. So many black men (and boys) killed for the crime of being black.
This mother’s heart aches for these men, for their mothers, for their girlfriends and wives and children and communities. I mourn for the mothers who teach their sons how not to get shot by the police. I mourn for the children who watch their fathers bleed out in front of them. I mourn for the girlfriends, the sisters, the brothers, the families, the community.
Like many others, I am struggling to make sense of it all. I am struggling to find something to DO, some way I can help. It’s nice to write Facebook posts tagged with #BlackLivesMatter, but that doesn’t enact meaningful change. The time to remain silent is over, though. It is time for all of us to cry out at the inequality—even those of us who do not directly experience it. Inequality and injustice affect us all.
Black lives matter. Muslim lives matter. Lives of disabled people matter. Hispanics matter, police matter, mothers matter, little boys matter. All lives matter. Let us all lend our voices to the cry echoing across the nation—NO MORE! No more violence, no more inequality, no more holier-than-thou-ness.
Like Gracie, I was born into privilege. There is nothing wrong with that. But there’s nothing wrong with being born into different situations, either. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being black, or Muslim, or poor, or whatever. If we can use these killings to realize that we’re all connected, that we all matter, then they will not have been in vain.
RIP, Philando Castile. RIP, Alton Sterling. RIP, officers of the Dallas police force. May your lives not have been lost in vain.